One of the most recent interesting tasks was producing measured sketches of a ‘hidey hole’ in the scree of Mullach Sgar. There are a few useful hiding places around the bay and this is probably the best example, having been cleared out in 1876 by John Sands. Historical references where the St Kildans had to resort to concealment are fairly common and they fit into a wider culture in the islands of watch places, warning fires and hiding places. Coll MacDonald of Colonsay raided St Kilda in 1615 causing the people to hide initially before he ‘slew all the bestiall of the isle’ while one hundred redcoats in search of Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in June 1746 initiating the same response.
The hidey hole
It is also proving a great pleasure to live in the manse, home to so many key residents and visitors through St Kildan history since its construction in 1828. Just the other day, while nodding off, I read George Clayton Atkinson’s description of his arrival in May 1831: ‘we were received by the minister Mr McKenzie on the rocks, and preceded with him to his house... He introduced us to his wife who is a Glasgow lady and has not one word of Gaelic. We foolishly neglected to bring them any newspapers, and were ourselves so threadbare of recent intelligence that we could only give them a general idea of political circumstances, and a short recital of the most spirited murders and accidents.’
The manse in 1938
I’d like to say that the inhabitants are slightly better informed now…
PS - Glasgow ladies to apply to firstname.lastname@example.org